Prelude to “ROTWORLD”!
Continued from this month’s ANIMAL MAN #12!
ANIMAL MAN and SWAMP THING – together at last!
Swamp Thing and Buddy Baker arrive in The Rot though the portal, but they find that it goes even deeper than they expected. They are attacked by Un-Men and the rest of the group above is as well. The portal into The Rot is being used by the Un-Men as a passage into the world, Ellen Baker, Maxine, and Abby fight them off. The creatures keep coming, and Socks warns that Abby must use her abilities to seal the portal for their own protection. This could prevent Buddy and Alec from returning so she leaves a small hole open for Alec's root-tether to find their way back.
Alec and Buddy make their way down into a lower level of the Rot, catching hold of a ladder of bone, and continuing downwards. Buddy realizes that he has lost some of his abilities in The Rot and only Alec still has strength as he is tethered. They consider returning but decide to continue on regardless of their weakened state.
Alec finds it odd that there is no resistance as they have descended down the ladder but they rationalize that the Rot must have weakened after the defeat of the Hunters Three and Sethe. All of a sudden they feel someone else coming down that ladder as well. They see it is Arcane, who smirks as they have fallen into his trap. He severs the tether to earth but Alec tries manages to send a message to Abby.
On the surface, the vine grows out into the shape of Abby's name before wilting and dying. Abby and Socks discuss the possibility of weakening the power of The Rot by finding the Parliament of Decay, though Socks admits is has always been hidden from the reaches of the Red and Green. Abby reveals that she knows where it is, and somehow he intends to find it herself.
Anton Arcane explains with joy that every thing that has happened recently was the Rot's doing. It was not weak as Alec and Buddy had believed, rather Sethe's return was merely meant to force the resurrection of Alec Holland in an act of desperation. That event broke the rules as human avatars cannot be resurrected from death without expecting the other elements to do the same with their avatars. This allowed the Rot to bring Arcane back and take over the world. Arcane announces that the heroes have been gone for a year and return them to the world.
Alec and Buddy beginning falling, and land unconscious. When they wake up they believe they are deeper in the Rot. However, they both realize what Arcane had said was true, and year has passed, and the Rot has destroyed the world as they know it.